You may give your urine little thought until something seems off. Whether it smells funky or you suddenly have to pee every 10 minutes, out-of-the-ordinary bathroom habits can be alarming. But what happens when you have an abnormal urine color?
“Colored urine isn’t always a cause for concern,” says David Shusterman, MD, a board-certified urologist at NY Urology. “Urine is a liquid waste product excreted by the kidneys, and it’s primarily composed of water, urea, and other waste products that are filtered out of the blood by the kidneys,” he explains.
The composition and color of urine can also vary depending on your hydration level, diet, medications, and overall health, says Stephanie Hack, MD, an ob-gyn and the founder of Lady Parts Doctor. In fact, urine is essentially your body’s liquid waste, and any color changes caused by food or medication are not typically concerning, she says.
That said, the color of your pee can be a sign that something is up with your health, Dr. Shusterman says. If you notice persistent changes in your urine (that cannot be attributed to diet or medications), blood in your urine, or cloudy urine accompanied by pain, fever, and frequent urination, it’s time to see a doctor, because it may signal an underlying health condition, he explains.
Until you can get to a provider, we had our experts answer all of our questions about abnormal urine color. For example, is dark-yellow urine cause for concern? And is green urine dangerous? Also, what does pale-yellow urine mean for your health? Keep reading to learn all about what your abnormal urine color means and when you should see a doctor.
Abnormal Urine Colors
Regular urine color typically ranges from clear to pale yellow, per the Mayo Clinic. But abnormal urine color can be caused by a number of things, from medication to urinary-tract infections to dehydration. Read on to understand what the color of your pee really means.
It’s difficult to evaluate cloudy urine based on appearance alone, but it could be caused by a urinary-tract infection, kidney stones, dehydration, or certain medications, Dr. Shusterman says. The accompanying symptoms can tell you or a doctor more about the root cause, he adds.
Additionally, if you have cloudy urine while pregnant, it could be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition characterized by high blood pressure, per the Cleveland Clinic. Preeclampsia usually develops in the third trimester, but if you notice cloudy urine while expecting, see your doctor right away.
Bright-yellow urine could be caused by food such as carrots or sweet potatoes or medications like antibiotics or laxatives, Dr. Shusterman says. “In most cases, it’s harmless and temporary, however, if the color persists after stopping medications or eating certain foods, you should consult with a urologist,” he explains.
Neon-yellow pee is also common and most likely from excess supplements, specifically excess B vitamins (vitamin B12), Dr. Hack adds.
Red or bloody urine is a cause for concern since it often indicates a urinary-tract infection or kidney stones, Dr. Hack says. It could also signal bladder cancer, kidney stones, or other kidney disease, so if you notice blood in your pee, visit your doctor immediately, Dr. Shusterman says.
If your urine is not bloody but rather a deep red or pink, it could also be from your diet if you recently ate beets or rhubarb, Dr. Hack says.
Your urine may look pink if you ate magenta or hot-pink foods like beets, rhubarb, or even blueberries, per the Mayo Clinic. If your pee is consistently pink for more than a few days or turns bloody, talk with your doctor ASAP.
Brown or Dark Urine
Brown or dark urine is likely a sign of dehydration, in which case you need to drink more water, Dr. Hack says. Certain antibiotics or foods like fava beans, rhubarb, or aloe could also cause brownish urine, per the Mayo Clinic.
The Mayo Clinic also states that brown urine could be a symptom of porphyria, a group of eight rare genetic disorders that affect the skin and nervous system as a result of a buildup of natural chemicals called porphyrins. If you experience brown or dark urine for more than a few days or have accompanying symptoms of pain, fever, or yellow skin and eyes, schedule a visit with your doctor immediately, per the Mayo Clinic.
Orange urine can be caused by certain medications like laxatives, antibiotics, or chemotherapeutic drugs, Dr. Hack says. Additionally, if you’ve recently taken AZO bladder-pain formula, you may experience orange pee, Dr. Shusterman says.
Dehydration and certain vitamins, such as A and B12, can also turn urine orange, per the Mayo Clinic. Talk with your doctor if your pee is consistently orange, because it may be a sign of an underlying health condition or a problem with your liver.
Blue or Green Urine
Blue or green urine may be a little alarming, but it’s often caused by medications or food dyes, Dr. Hack says. If you notice your urine is consistently blue or green, talk with your doctor.
Urine can also turn light blue or green due to pain and arthritis medications, per the Mayo Clinic. Urinary-tract infections caused by a specific bacteria can also trigger green urine, in which case you should see a doctor.
Good news! If your urine is clear, it means you’re well-hydrated and drinking an adequate amount of water, Dr. Shusterman says.
The Bottom Line
If your urine changes colors without any accompanying symptoms, it’s likely temporary and harmless due to certain medications, food, or dehydration. However, if symptoms persist or you experience pain, discomfort, fever, or blood in your urine, Dr. Hack recommends checking in with your healthcare provider for an exam and additional testing.